More than 3,000 packets of illegal cigarettes were seized during a crackdown by trading standards officers.
Teams of officers, supported by Northamptonshire Police, carried out raids at premises in Corby, Wellingborough and Northampton last Tuesday (October 21), and also found 35 illegal pouches of tobacco and nine bottles of non duty-paid vodka.
With the help of two trained sniffer dogs, Phoebe and Scamp from BWY Canine, almost 300 packets of illegal cigarettes were found concealed behind a cupboard in a storeroom of one of the shops.
Northamptonshire Police also seized a large quantity of cash associated with criminal activity at one of the premises.
A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council’s trading standards team said: “All tobacco sold in the UK must have certain warnings in English and also a picture warning, so anyone buying illicit tobacco will know straight away that it is not legal. “
Cllr André González de Savage, county council cabinet member for strategic infrastructure, economic growth and public protection, said: “Illegal cigarettes not only pose a risk to people’s health but those involved in their sale are often linked to other forms of criminal activity, including drug dealing, money laundering, people trafficking and even terrorism.
“Our trading standards officers will not hesitate to take action against anyone suspected of supplying or selling illegal cigarettes and those convicted face a costly fine or even imprisonment.
“Anyone being offered cheap tobacco or any other types of illicit goods should report it to trading standards, anonymously if preferred, by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.”